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Corn Oil

Member Companies and Pland Locations .................................... 2
Foreword ............................................................................................. 3
Introduction ....................................................................................... 4
The Corn Wet Milling Industry ....................................................... 5
General Manufacturing System ....................................................... 6
Corn Oil Manufacturing Process .................................................... 9
Packaging, Transport and Storage ................................................ 13
Physical and Chemical Properties ................................................. 14
Nutritional Properties ..................................................................... 16
Production and Commercial Uses ................................................ 19
Analytical Examination of Corn Oil ............................................ 22


1. Proximate Analysis of Yell Dent Corn Grain .......................... 6
2. Comparative Composition of Crude & Refined Corn Oil ....... 12
3. Approximate Composition of Refined Corn Oil:
Nutrient Values ............................................................................ 14
4. Food Chemicals Codex Specifications for Refined Corn Oil ... 15
5. Typical Chemical and Physical Data for Refined Corn Oil ....... 15
6. Vegetable Oil Production, 2004 ................................................ 19

1. A Kernel of Corn ......................................................................... 6
2. The Corn Wet Milling Process .................................................... 7
3. Corn Oil Refining ........................................................................ 11
4. Nutritional Labeling of Corn Oil ............................................. 16

Corn Refiners Association

1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-5805
202-331-1634 Fax: 202-331-2054
5th Edition
Copyright 2006

Archer Daniels Midland Company
P.O. Box 1470
Decatur, Illinois 62525

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404
Clinton, Iowa 52732
Columbus, Nebraska 68601
Decatur, Illinois 62525
Marshall, Minnesota 56258-2744

Cargill, Incorporated
P.O. Box 5662/MS62
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55440-5662

Blair, Nebraska 68008-2649
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406-2638
Dayton, Ohio 45413-8001
Eddyville, Iowa 52553-5000
Hammond, Indiana 46320-1094
Memphis, Tennessee 38113-0368
Wahpeton, North Dakota 58075

Corn Products International, Inc.

5 Westbrook Corporate Center
Westchester, Illinois 60154

Bedford Park, Illinois 60501-1933
Stockton, California 95206-0129
Winton-Salem, North Carolina 27107

National Starch and Chemical Company

10 Finderne Avenue
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807-0500

Indianapolis, Indiana 46221
North Kansas City, Missouri 64116

Penford Products Co.

(A company of Penford Corporation)
P.O. Box 428
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406-0428

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404-2175

Roquette America, Inc.

1417 Exchange Street
Keokuk, Iowa 52632-6647

Keokuk, Iowa 52632-6647

Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas, Inc.

(A subsidiary of Tate & Lyle, PLC )
P.O. Box 151
Decatur, Illinois 62521


Decatur, Illinois 62521
Lafayette, Indiana 47902
Lafayette, Indiana 47905
Loudon, Tennessee 37774

Golden corn oil sitting on the pantry shelf often serves as the
most visible sign of the corn refining industry to most Americans. Although corn oil represents a relatively modest amount
of all food ingredients produced by corn refiners, its household
use reminds consumers of the vast array of food and industrial
products derived from our most abundant crop.


Long the preferred food oil for discerning consumers, corn oil
was limited in supply until recent years. The growth of corn
refining over the last twenty years, has led to greater supplies of
corn oil being available for domestic consumption while also
contributing to the U.S. balance of trade through exports.
The modern corn refining process creates various food and
industrial starches, sweeteners, alcohols, oil, feed ingredients and
bioproducts. Each offers an excellent example of the way we
can add value to raw agricultural commodities. By doing so, we
expand markets for U.S. farmers, increase employment through
processing and provide a wide array of useful products to
American industry and consumers.
We hope you will find this booklet about corn oil useful. Please
contact the Corn Refiners Association, if you would like more
information on corn refining and its products.

Audrae Erickson
Corn Refiners Association

Readers are advised that the information and suggestions contained herein
are general in nature and that specific technical questions should be referred
to the Association or its member companies. Questions as to the price and/
or availability of products described should be directed to individual Association members.


As the corn refining industry

expanded its product portfolio and processed more corn,
the quantity of corn oil available increased dramatically.
Corn oil has become an important item in the mix of
products manufactured from
Americas most important
crop, and is no longer thought
of as simply another co-product of starch manufacture.
Annual production of crude
corn oil currently exceeds 2.4
billion pounds. Nearly all of
it is refined into high-quality
oil for the food industry and
direct use by consumers. In
the 1950s, medical researchers
found that corn oil was effective in reducing serum cholesterol in humans. This research gave rise to an
increased demand for corn oil
that continues today.
Corn refiners invested in research and development that
has resulted in production of
edible oils of consistently high
quality. Concurrently, development of new and improved
products using corn oil, many
of them conceived in response to health-related research in foods and nutrition,
has given this oil a market
identity that is widely recognized and differentiates it

clearly from other edible vegetable oils. About 95 percent

of domestically produced
corn oil is from the corn wet
milling industry, and all but a
small fraction is used in one
form or another as food.
This booklet presents a brief
history and current description of the corn wet milling
industry and products; a description of the corn oil
manufacturing process; composition, physical and chemical properties of corn oil;
commercial uses and end
products utilizing corn oil;
nutritional considerations; and
a listing of methods for identification and analysis of corn
oil. It is the fourth in a series
of booklets describing products from corn. Subjects of
other volumes are: corn
starch; nutritive sweeteners
from corn; and corn wet
milled feed products.
The growth of corn oil in the
marketplace is based on its
functionality, economy, and
acceptability in relation to
other fats or oils. Among
these factors, functionality is
foremost. For health reasons,
corn oil has replaced a significant amount of saturated fat
and is also a top choice for
trans fat reduction in numerous food products.

The origins of the American
corn wet milling industry can
be traced back to 1842, when
Thomas Kingsford began the
commercial manufacture of
starch from corn. Previously,
starch was made from wheat
and potatoes, starting as a
cottage industry in the colonial period. The first starch
factory had been established
in New England in 1802 to
provide potato starch for cotton cloth mills. By 1860, a
substantial amount of cornstarch was being produced in
many small plants scattered
about the country. U.S. consumption of cornstarch
reached about 210 million
pounds in the 1880s, but there
was significant overproduction and many of the small
plants closed. After 1900,
there was a steady increase in
consumption and most of the
small plants were replaced by
a small number of large
plants. By this time, corn had
succeeded wheat and potatoes
as the principal source of
starch. Thereafter the industry enjoyed continuing growth
while it began to diversify into
the complex processing industry that corn refining is today.
Corn syrups became a wellknown article of commerce
and household use in the latter part of the nineteenth
century. By 1921, research led
to a pure sugar from corn
syrup crystalline dextrose

hydrate which became a

commercial product within
a few years. In the 1950s,
syrups in a range of controlled levels of sweetness
approaching that of pure
dextrose entered the market. In 1967, enzymatic
transformation of glucose
to fructose was introduced,
leading to production of
high fructose corn syrup.
Since the late 1980s, sweeteners derived from corn
have supplied the majority
of the U.S. nutritive sweetener market. A wide variety of starches and starch
derivatives are now produced to fill the needs of
many different industries.
Additionally, corn refiners
are branching out to produce a wide variety of specialty food and feed additives through other
fermentation processes.
Co-products from corn
refining make important
contributions to livestock
feeds. Production of highquality corn oil increases in
direct proportion to the
growing volume of corn
going to starch, sweetener,
ethanol and bioproduct
production, and the oil has
found a unique and special
place among edible oils.



The current growth and

development of corn refining, characterized by advanced technology, the
large number and diversity


Figure 1 is a cross sectional diagram of the corn kernel, showing the general structure and location of the major components
of interest in the milling process.
The outer layers (hull, or bran and
tip-cap), which account for about
6 percent of the kernels weight,
become a component of feed
products. The germ (embryo),
in which most of the oil resides,
is about 11.5 percent. The remainder of the kernel is endosperm. Floury endosperm
(white portion of the drawing) is
mostly soft starch, easily separated and recovered. The stippled
portion of Figure 1 is horny endosperm, in which starch and
Table 1.
Proximate Analysis of
Yellow Dent Corn

protein (gluten) are intermixed

and require more drastic treatment for separation. Table 1
shows the chemical composition
considered representative of
American yellow hybrid dent

of products and variety of

industries served, demonstrates that the corn kernel,
like crude petroleum, has
become an important source
of chemical feedstocks.



Figure 1.
A Kernel of Corn.
Figure 2 is a flow chart of the
corn wet milling process, showing the paths of the corn kernel
through equipment, processes,
and intermediate products to
the four main categories of
output products: starch, sweetener, animal feed and oil. Nutritive sweeteners are further refined to produce fermentation
products and other chemicals



Moisture (% wet basis)

Starch (% dry basis)
Protein (% dry basis)
Fat (% dry basis)
Ash (oxide) (% dry basis)
Pentosans (as xylose) (% dry basis)
Fiber (neutral detergent residue) (% dry basis)
Cellulose + Lignin

7 23
61 78
6 12
3.1 5.7 4.3
1.1 3.9 1.4
5.8 6.6 6.2
8.3 11.9 9.5
3.3 4.3 3.3


(acid detergent residue) (% dry basis)

Sugars, Total (as glucose) (% dry basis)

Total Carotenoids (mg/kg)

1.0 3.0
12 36


Reprinted with permission form White, P.J., and Johnson, L.A., eds., 2003, Corn
Chemistry and Technology, American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. Paul, MN.

in a series of tanks, which are

operated in a continuous-batch
process. The water circulates
counter currently through the
tanks, so when it is finally withdrawn from the newest batch, it
has a relatively high concentration of solubles. The steeping
process facilitates separation of
the components of the kernel
and loosens the gluten bonds to
release the starch. Discharged
steepwater, rich in protein at 35
to 45 percent of total solids, is
concentrated in vacuum evaporators to a solids content of 35
to 55 percent. Steepwater concentrate is utilized in feed products or in industrial fermentation

such as amino acids, organic

acids and polyols.


Shelled corn enters the system
through cleaning machines,
which remove foreign material.
Cleaned corn then goes to a
steep tank holding up to
25,000 bushels, where it soaks
in circulating water, maintained
at 125F and slightly acidified
with 0.1 to 0.2 percent of sulfur dioxide. Steeping the corn
for 24 to 48 hours softens the
kernel, loosens the hull and
germ and swells the endosperm. Steeping takes place

Figure 2
The Corn Wet Milling Process

Shelled Corn

Corn Cleaners








Oil Refining
(See Fig. 3)


Crude Oil

Corn Germ

Oil Expellers
and Extractors

Clean, Dry

Germ Washing
and Drying


Starch Washing



Grinding Mills


Steep Tanks

Fermentation and
Other Chemicals

Softened corn from the steep

tanks is coarsely ground with
water in an attrition mill to
free the hull, the germ and a
large portion of the floury
endosperm starch and gluten.
The slurry of coarsely ground
corn is forced under pressure
into hydroclones, which centrifugally separate the lighter
corn germ, which is then carried off to washing screens.
Washed germ is conveyed to a
dryer and from there to oil
recovery facilities. Washings
from the germ are piped to
the starch centrifuges. Heavy
fractions from the coarse
grinding mills and germ separators are passed through fine
grinding mills and washing
screens for fiber separation.
Finally, the slurry is sent to
centrifuges for separation of
gluten (light phase) from
starch (heavy phase).
The gluten fraction passes to a
centrifugal concentrator and is
filtered and dried. The starch
stream goes to washing cyclones fed with fresh water;
overflow, containing residual
gluten from the mill starch,
is recycled to the starch centrifuge; underflow from the
washing cyclones, a suspension of starch containing only
about 0.3 percent protein, is
passed through a concentrator
and dryer, from which the
finished starch product

End products of the wet milling process are purified starch,
a collection of feed products,
and crude corn oil. Commercial starch products are then
manufactured in great variety,
including unmodified cornstarch, acid-modified and oxidized starches, dextrins, and
starch derivatives. Detailed
information on starch processing and products is presented
in the booklet, Corn Starch,
from the Corn Refiners Association.
A large fraction of total cornstarch production is utilized in
the manufacture of nutritive
sweeteners. These starch conversion products include
maltodextrins; high fructose,
high maltose, and other types
of corn syrups; corn syrup
solids; and dextrose. Comprehensive information about
these products is presented in
Nutritive Sweeteners from
Corn available from the Corn
Refiners Association. Another
major use of cornstarch is as a
feedstock for production of
ethanol and other fermentation
products for food and feed
The corn wet milling process is
very efficient resulting in the
utilization of virtually all of
the corn kernel. Steepwater,
bran and gluten from starch
production and germ meal
from the oil extraction process

are all utilized in high-quality

livestock feeds. Manufacture,
composition and uses of these
feed products are the subject
of another Corn Refiners Association booklet, Corn Wet
Milled Feed Products.

Corn germ contains about 85

percent of the total oil of the
kernel. The rest is dispersed
in endosperm and hull fractions and is generally utilized
in feed products. The clean,
dried germ from wet milling
has an oil content of 45 to 50
percent. Oil is usually extracted from the germ by a
combination of expelling in
continuous screw presses and
solvent extraction of the press
cake. The initial expeller can
recover a little more than half
of the oil and subsequent
solvent extraction (with hexane or iso-hexane) will bring
the total yield to about 95
percent. The solvent is removed by evaporation, recovered and re-used. The expelled and solvent-extracted
fractions are combined as
total crude corn oil. The oildepleted germ is freed of
solvent, toasted, ground and
screened. The resulting corn
germ meal is combined with
fiber and concentrated
steepwater to produce corn
gluten feed.

Crude corn oil, because of the
natural antioxidants it contains, undergoes little deterioration when stored for long
periods, provided the temperature is kept well below
40C (102F) and moisture
plus volatile matter level is
below 0.4 percent. Since virtually all refined corn oil is
utilized in foods, the need to
attain a quality suited to such
use guides the refining process. Steps include degumming to remove phosphatides,
alkali treatment to neutralize
free fatty acids, bleaching for
color and trace element removal, winterization (the removal of high-melting waxes)
and deodorization (steam
stripping under vacuum). Figure 3 is a flow chart of the
refining operations. Crude oil
enters the process via preliminary filtration. Degumming
removes phosphatides and
other materials that may be
precipitated or dissolved from
the crude oil by hot water.
This step is usually omitted in
refineries that process only
corn oil, but is used in refineries that are set up to refine
soybean oil as well as corn oil.
Degumming is accomplished
by introducing hot water at a
level of 1 to 3 percent of oil
volume, or by injecting an
equivalent amount of steam
to hydrate the phosphatides.
The phosphatides, together

with certain other materials,

absorb water and precipitate
from the oil as a heavier
phase, which is removed by
When degumming is omitted,
the refiner depends on an alkali
refining step, which uses
roughly the same temperature
as a degumming operation, to
take out the phosphatides
along with the free fatty acids
(in the form of soapstock) and
to reduce color. Phospholipids, corn lecithin, can be
recovered from both degumming and alkali refining residues.
In the alkali refining step, free
fatty acids are neutralized by
treatment at 82 100C (160
180F) with a small amount of
concentrated sodium hydroxide solution. Alkali refining
reduces color and also removes
other non-triglyceride substances, which are separated
along with the neutralized free
fatty acids and hydrated phosphatides, by centrifugation.
The alkali treated oil is usually
washed with a small quantity
of hot water to remove residual soap formed by the
alkali treatment. The separated
residues from alkali treatment
are sold as soapstock or acidulated soapstock, which contains about 95 percent free
fatty acids.
The oil is then decolorized by
treatment with acid-activated

clays that bleach by adsorbing

color bodies, residual soaps
and metal complexes from the
oil. In plants producing partially hydrogenated oil along
with regular corn oil, bleached
oil coming from the filter is
piped to the hydrogenation
vessel. When that process is
completed, the partially hydrogenated oil is passed through
a filter to remove catalyst
particles and other extraneous
material. Further bleaching,
deodorization and filtration
yield a clear, pale yellow oil.
Refining of the unmodified
oil continues with winterization. Waxes, present in the oil
in small amounts characteristically have high melting points
and are readily crystallized by
chilling in refrigerated vessels.
They are then removed by
filtration. This produces a
haze-free finished oil when
Finally, deodorization is accomplished by a continuous
steam distillation under high
vacuum at high temperature
232 260C (450 500F).
Oil is fed into the top of the
distillation tower, while a jet
of steam entering at the base
carries the volatile odorants
with it as it passes upwards
and exits near the top. Condensed exhaust steam contains odor, color, flavor components and the remaining
traces of free fatty acids. The
deodorized oil is drawn off at

Figure 3.
Corn Oil Refining

Corn Oil
Lecithin, etc.





Free Fatty Acids




Alkali Refining


Spent Clay




Free Fatty Acids

Polish Filter





Post Bleach

Spent Catalysts,




Polish Filter




the bottom of the tower, then

dried and passed through a
polish filter to become the
final product, refined corn oil.
Corn oil may be shipped from
refinery to a food manufacturer after bleaching and winterization, leaving deodorization to be done in the food
plant. Essential aspects of
corn oil manufacture are common throughout the industry,
but the refining process may
vary considerably or have
some steps eliminated, depending on quality and composition of the crude oil, status of plant equipment and
the planned end use. With
current technology, manufacturing is essentially a continuous process.
Table 2.
Comparative Composition of
Crude & Refined Corn Oil*

The changes in composition

accomplished by refining are
indicated in Table 2. Refining
increases purity from 95 96
percent to about 99 percent
triglycerides. The substances
removed in attaining this level
of purity are ones that detract
from the value as a high-quality edible oil for varied uses.
Free fatty acids lower the
smoke point of oils in frying
operations. Phospholipids at
the levels ordinarily found in
crude oils must be removed
because they produce dark
colors upon heating the oil
and form a precipitate, or
sludge, in the presence of
small amounts of moisture in
frying vats. They also significantly affect flavor if not removed. Color, odor, and
Typical Value, %

Free fatty acids
Odor and flavor
Cold test at 0C (32F)

variable: very
dark to yellow

pale yellow
slight corn
slight nutty/
clear for
24 hours**

*Adapted and updated from Blanchard, Paul Harwood, Technology of

Corn Wet Milling and Associated Processes, 1992. Table 14.1, p. 360
**Time may vary depending on producer


flavor must be removed because of consumer preference. In addition, these refining steps solve important
safety concerns with smoking
oils and will remove potential
contaminants, which may be
present in any agricultural raw
material. Processing is controlled to retain the tocopherols in the refined oil.
This is an advantage because
of their antioxidant activity,
which helps retard development of rancidity, and for the
Vitamin E activity of certain

Crude corn oil in bulk moving between plants, from starch

plant to a distant refinery or to
an export terminal is shipped
in rail tank cars or, sometimes,
in highway tankers. Food grade,
fully refined corn oil in bulk is
often shipped from refinery to
food manufacturer in highway
tankers, depending on the quantity and distance. Smaller quantities of corn oil are shipped
from refinery or repacker to the
user in drums or cans. Larger
quantities, which are shipped
for export, are carried by oceangoing parcel tankers.
Although corn oil in packaged
products is well protected
against rancidity by the natural
antioxidants it contains, further
protection by displacing
headspace air with nitrogen is
sometimes practiced. To ensure

adequate shelf life, consumer

packages of corn oil are often
filled under nitrogen into either
glass or plastic bottles. Likewise, snack foods fried in corn
oil can be given added protection against rancidity by packaging in laminated foil and plastic bags that, in filling and
sealing, have air in the package
displaced by an inert gas such
as nitrogen. Storage at ambient room temperature or lower
is also necessary to prevent deterioration in packaged prepared foods containing polyunsaturated oils.


Corn oil has little or no sensitivity to indoor, incandescent

light, but prolonged exposure to
fluorescent lighting may result
in development of measurable
rancidity. The consumer packages of clear glass or plastic
now used permit color and clarity of the product to be easily
seen for the relatively brief period it usually remains on an
open shelf. Contact with copper promotes the rapid development of rancidity in polyunsaturated oils. For this reason,
metal drums, plant storage
tanks, rail and highway transport tanks, valves, piping and
process equipment must be
scrupulously free of copper at
all places where there could be
any contact with the oil. Prolonged contact with iron may
also cause problems, but iron is
of much less concern in this regard than copper.


Physical and chemical data on

vegetable oils serve a number of
practical uses: assessment of
nutritional values; specification
writing for sale and purchase of
oils, in consideration of intended
use; quality control and monitoring of refining and food manufacturing processes; background
information for chemical, biological and medical research involving fats; and regulation of
food quality and safety by public agencies charged with that responsibility.
Corn oil may be supplied to the
user in the crude state for further refining, in intermediate re-

Table 3.
Approximate Composition of Refined Corn Oil:
Nutrient Values

fined stages or in the finished

(fully refined) form. Tables 3
through 5 present data concerning the physical and chemical
properties of finished (fully refined) corn oil.
Table 3 represents the information on refined corn oil
that is of primary concern to
nutritionists and dieticians.
Table 4 lists the primary specifications for corn oil that have
been adopted by the Committee on Food Chemicals Codex
of the National Academy of
Sciences/National Research
Council. Purchase specifications for crude and refined

(Amount in 100 Grams of Oil)

Weight (grams)
Moisture (grams)
Protein (N x 6.25) (grams)
Fat, Total (grams)
Triglycerides (grams)
Polyunsaturates, Total (grams) 59.7
Cis, Cis Only (grams)*
Monounsaturates (grams)
Saturates, Total (grams)*
Unsaponifiable Matter (grams)
Cholesterol (milligrams)
Phytosterols (milligrams)
Tocopherols, Total (milligrams) 88
Alpha-tocopherol (milligrams) 19
Gamma-tocopherol (milligrams) 67
Delta-tocopherol (milligrams) 3
Carbohydrate, Available (grams)
Ash (grams)
Sodium (milligrams)
Energy (calories)



*Polyunsaturated and saturated fats as defined for nutrition information

labeling, 21 CFR 101.9 (1994).


corn oil may be obtained from

individual oil producers. Additional chemical and physical
measurements that are used to

characterize edible oils, presenting ranges that typify refined corn oil, are shown in
Table 5.

Color (AOCS-Wesson)
Free Fatty Acids (as oleic acid)
Iodine Value
Linolenic Acid
Peroxide Value
Unsaponifiable Matter

Not more than 0.5 mg/kg

Not more than 5.0 red
Not more than 0.1%
120 - 130
Not more than 0.1 mg/kg
Not more than 2.0%
Not more than 10 meq/kg
Not more than 1.5%
Not more than 0.1%

Table 4.
Food Chemicals Codex
Specifications for Refined
Corn Oil

Food Chemicals Codex, Fifth Edition, pp. 122-123, National Academy

Press, 2003.

Iodine Value (Wijs)

Saponification Value
Viscosity (Sayboldt-Universal, 100F)
Refractive Index @ 25F
Specific Gravity @ 60F
Weight per gallon @ 60F
Melting Point
Smoke Point
Flash Point
Fire Point
Cloud Point
Typical Fatty Acid Profile
Linoleic 18:2 (polyunsaturated)
Linolenic 18:3 (polyunsaturated)
Palmitic 16:0 (saturated)
Stearic 18:0 (saturated)
Oleic 18:1 (monounsaturated)

122 131
189 195
165 175 seconds
1.470 1.474
0.922 0.928
7.7 pounds
12 17F
445 460F
630 640F
690 700F
7 12F

Table 5.
Typical Chemical and
Physical Data for
Refined Corn Oil

Grams/100 gm. oil

54 60
11 13
25 31




Figure 4.
Nutritional Labeling of
Corn Oil

Corn oil can play a major role in

the human diet. It is a concentrated source of energy (calories), is very digestible, provides
essential fatty acids and Vitamin
E, and is a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which
help regulate blood cholesterol
levels and lower elevated blood
pressure (1,2). Animal and human studies show that at least
97 percent of the oil is digested
and absorbed. Like all fats and
oils, corn oil provides 9 kcal (38
kjoules)/gram, or about 120 kcal
per one tablespoon (14g) serving. Corn oil is a rich source of
linoleic acid, an essential fatty
acid that the body cannot make.

The National Research Council

and the Food and Agriculture
Organization/World Health Organization recommend about 24 percent energy in the form of
essential fatty acids with an additional 3 percent of energy for
women who are pregnant or are
breast feeding. A tablespoon
serving of corn oil will satisfy the
daily essential fatty acid requirement for a healthy child or adult.

A typical Nutrition Facts panel
for corn oil is shown in Figure
4. Corn oil may be labeled A
cholesterol and/or sodium free
food. When this descriptor is
used the following statement
must appear: Contains 14

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 tbsp (14 g)
Servings Per Container (pint) 32
Amount Per Serving
Calories 120

Calories from Fat 120

%Daily Value*

Total Fat (14 g)

Saturated Fat (2 g)
Polyunsaturated Fat (8 g)
Monounsaturated Fat (4 g)


Cholesterol (0 mg)
Sodium (0 mg)
Total Carbohydrate (0 g)
Protein (0 g)


Vitamin E


Not a significant source of dietary fiber, sugars, vitamin A,

vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Ingredients: Corn Oil


grams of fat per serving. See Nutrition Facts panel for information
on total fat, saturated fat and other

The relationship between dietary
fat, blood cholesterol and lipoprotein levels and coronary
heart disease has been extensively studied for fifty years. It
is now widely accepted that a
diet high in saturated fat and
cholesterol is one of many causative factors in the development
of atherosclerosis and coronary
heart disease. Regression equations relating type of fat and its
effect on blood cholesterol,
based on 248 metabolic diet
comparisons (3), show that saturated fats raise, polyunsaturated
fats lower and monounsaturated
fats have no effect on blood
cholesterol levels. Saturated fats
are approximately twice as powerful in raising cholesterol levels
as polyunsaturated fats are in
lowering them. The National
Cholesterol Education Program
and the American Heart Association recommend a diet in
which total fat is less than 30
percent of calories, saturated fat
is less than 10 percent of calories, polyunsaturated fat is up to
10 percent of calories and cholesterol is 300 mg or less per day.
Corn oil has been used extensively in research studying the
relationship of dietary fat to
blood cholesterol levels. This is

because corn oil was the

only highly polyunsaturated
oil readily available to investigators and patients in the
mid-1950s. Due to its high
stability, pleasant taste and
multifunctional usage, corn
oil became the standard
against which other oils
were compared to assess
cholesterol-lowering abilities
of oils. In a survey of the
literature, 30 clinical studies
(39 diet comparisons) were
found where corn oil was a
significant part of the diet.
A total of 1,160 subjects
were studied; the average
cholesterol lowering was 16
percent. This is greater
than the 3-14 percent cholesterol lowering anticipated
by the National Cholesterol
Education Program. Similar benefits are not likely to
result for the general population as diets are strictly
controlled in clinical trials.
However, the level of total
and saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet has
steadily decreased over the
past 10 to 15 years.
In research where corn oil
was compared to other oils,
nine human feeding studies
involving 391 men and
women showed that corn
oil had the greatest cholesterol-lowering abilities. In
fact, three studies show
corn oil to be superior to
sunflower oil in overall cholesterol lowering. The total

composition of an oil, which

includes the fatty acid composition, triglyceride structure
and non-triglyceride components, contributes to that oils
ability to lower serum cholesterol. Among liquid vegetable
oils, no oil is better than corn
oil to lower blood cholesterol

Numerous human studies
show that diets enriched in
polyunsaturated fatty acids
can significantly lower elevated blood pressure. Corn
oil was used in many of these
studies (4). Corn oil diets
have shown blood pressure
lowering of about 12 percent
in men and 5 percent in
women who had elevated
blood pressure (mild hypertension). No significant effect
of polyunsaturates has been
noted in persons with normal
blood pressure.


The Food and Drug Administration adopted regulations
that require the labeling of
retail foods for trans fatty
acids in January 2006. The
primary reason for this requirement is the fact that
numerous studies have shown
that, like saturated fatty acids,
trans fatty acids elevate blood
cholesterol levels. (5)
The requirement mandates a
separate line item for trans fat

directly below the saturated fat

line on the Nutrition Facts
panel. Items containing less
than 0.5 grams of trans fat per
serving can be declared as 0
grams. If the food contains
less than 0.5 grams of total fat,
a footnote can replace the trans
line that says, Contains an
insignificant amount of trans
fat. Items that have levels of
less than 0.5 grams per serving
of both saturates and trans fat
can bear the statement, Saturated fat free. Items that offer
a 25 percent reduction in saturates per serving can bear the
statement, Reduced saturates.
The average trans fatty acid
intake is estimated at 2-4 percent of the total energy consumed. The average saturated
fat intake estimate is 12-14
percent. Current dietary advice is to reduce consumption
of both saturated and trans
fatty acids.
Where do trans fatty acids
come from? Trans fatty acids
occur naturally in ruminant
animals, such as cows. Tallow
and milk fat can contain between four and 11 percent trans
fatty acids. In vegetable oil
processing, most trans fatty
acid formation occurs during
partial hydrogenation. Partial
hydrogenation of liquid vegetable oils to produce more
solid and stable forms for use
in products such as margarines and shortenings has

been carried out for over 90

years. During hydrogenation,
some of the naturally occurring cis double bonds in the
unsaturated fatty acids are
changed into trans double
bonds, which makes the fatty
acid molecule appear and act
similarly to that of a saturated
fatty acid. Small amounts of
trans fatty acids, typically 0.5
3 percent, are also formed
during deodorization of nonhydrogenated salad oils. This
is the final step in oil processing where the oil is exposed to
high temperature.
1. B.F. Hauman, Corn Oil. J.
Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 62:152431, 1985
2. J. Dupont, P.J. White, M.P.
Carpenter, E.J. Schaefer, S.N.
Meydani, C.E. Elson, M.
Woods and S.L. Gorbach,
Food uses and health effects
of corn oil. J. Am. Col. Nutr.
9:438-470, 1990
3. D.M. Hegsted, L.M. Ausman,
J.A. Johnson and G.E. Dallal,
Dietary fat and serum lipids;
an evaluation of the experimental data. Am. J. Clin.
Nutr. 57:875-883, 1993
4. J.M. Iacono and R.M.
Dougherty, Effects of polyunsaturated fats on blood
pressure. Ann. Rev. Nutr.
13:243-260, 1993
5. J.T. Judd, D.J. Baer, B.A.
Clevidence, P. Kris-Etherton,
R.A. Muesing and M. Iwane.
Lipids 37, no2: 123-131, 2002


The amount of corn oil produced, which is controlled by
the total volume of corn processed, has increased steadily
since 1973. Between 1956 and
1974, average annual growth
in production of crude corn
oil was 3.2 percent. From
1974 through 2002, the rate
of increase climbed to 5.75
percent annually.


Corn oil is now the second

leading vegetable oil produced
in the United States, second in
importance only to soybean
oil. Domestic corn oil production was 2.5 billion pounds
in 2004 and soybean oil,
which has dominated the U.S.
vegetable oil market was 18.7
billion pounds. Relative production of major vegetable
oils is shown in Table 6.
Vegetable oil statistics are available online from the U. S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service at

Soybean Oil


Table 6.
Vegetable Oil Production, 2004

Corn Oil


(Million Pounds)

Cottonseed Oil


Sunflower Oil


Canola Oil


Source: Bureau of the Census and

Agricultural Marketing Service


Overall the major vegetable
oils such as soybean, corn,
cottonseed, and canola comprised more than 95 percent
of the vegetable oil consumed
in the United States in 2004.
The vast majority of this use
is in three categories: (1) salad
or cooking oil which takes
around 47 percent of domestic consumption; (2) shortening (fluid, semi-solid, or solid
baking and frying fats) which
accounts for about 43 percent
of domestic vegetable oil
consumption; and (3) margarine which accounts for about
10 percent of domestic vegetable oil consumption.


The principal food uses of
corn oil (as either consumer
or institutional products) include:
Salad and cooking oil - 100
percent corn oil or in
blends with other liquid
vegetable oils.
Margarine both 100 percent corn oil in the oil
phase or in blends with
other vegetable oils.
Blends of butter (40 percent) and corn oil margarine (60 percent).
Mayonnaise and emulsiontype salad dressings.
As an oil ingredient in a vari20

ety of packaged and restaurant foods, including:

Spaghetti sauce;
Potato chips and snack
French fries and breaded
fried foods;
Baking mixes;
Frostings and whipped
Crumb coatings for meat
and poultry; and
Baked goods.
Only a minor amount of total
corn oil production is blended
with other vegetable oils with
the exception of corn oil in
consumer packages such as
those listed above in which
ingredient statements show
corn oil as part of a blend or
one of several optional oils
that may be used. There are a
few such products that indicate only corn oil is used. Use
in packaged foods represents
a small fraction of total corn
oil consumption.
The output of cooking oil is
divided between consumer
and institutional packaged
products and industrial frying
oils furnished to snack food
producers and restaurant frying operations. Corn oil may
be blended with other oils in
packages for home use in
order to provide desirable
flavor to other oils. Institutional frying use of corn oil

has expanded dramatically in

the last decade as fast food
companies have switched
potato frying from an animal
fat to a vegetable oil base.
Historically, both non-hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated corn oil have been used
for frying applications. Recently, the use of non-hydrogenated corn oil has increased,
primarily to address trans fatty
acid concerns.
Margarine began to displace
butter as a household spread
beginning in the 1930s. However, before 1950, use of corn
oil in margarine manufacture
was minimal. The discovery
in the 1950s that corn oil had
a favorable impact on serum
cholesterol dramatically expanded its use in margarine.
Corn oil margarines are
among the highest in
polyunsaturates of all the
leading margarines. Use of
corn oil in margarine was only
about one million pounds in
the 1930s, but increased to
around 15 million pounds in
the 1950s, 50 million pounds
in the 1960s and up to 250
million pounds in the early
1980s. Corn oil use for margarine production has decreased
since the early 1980s as sup-

plies have been diverted to

institutional frying uses.

Consumption of corn oil in
nonfood uses represents a
negligible percentage of total
consumption. Small amounts
are used in the manufacture
of resins, plastics, lubricants
and similar oils. A small
quantity of highly refined oil
is used by the pharmaceutical
industry in certain dosage
forms and for other purposes.
The residues and byproducts
from corn oil refining amount
to 8 to 10 percent of the
crude oil entering the process.
The bulk of these residues are
in the form of soapstock,
which contains the neutralized
free fatty acids and phosphatides. Most materials recovered
from soapstock have industrial end uses, but oil can be a
source of edible forms of free
fatty acids and lecithin. It is
possible to recover small
quantities of phytosterols and
other substances from
soapstock and the minor residues. Recovered waxes from
the winterizing step are utilized industrially or in animal



Published literature provides

numerous sources and descriptions of methods of
analysis for various chemical
and physical properties of
corn and other food oils. The
Corn Refiners Association has
developed various analytical
methods for numerous products of the corn wet milling
industry, including corn oil.
These Standard Analytical
Methods are published by
the Association and may be
obtained for a reasonable
cost. Methods developed
specifically for use with corn
oil are:
H-10: Cold Test
H-12: Color (Spectrophotometric)
H-22: Free Fatty Acids
H-32: Iodine Number
(Wijs Method)
In addition, a number of
other professional societies
publish methods that may be
of use to the producer and
user of corn and other vegetable oils. In particular, the
reader is referred to the methods published by the AOAC
International (2200 Wilson
Blvd., Suite 400, Arlington,
Virginia 22201, www.aoac.org)
and the American Oil Chemists Society (P.O. Box 3489,
1608 Broadmoor Drive,
Champaign, Illinois 61826,


Corn Refiners Association

1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006-5805
202-331-1634 Fax: 202-331-2054 www.corn.org